Help my transition from politics / public affairs to the media / digital media / information industry.
August 14, 2012 8:44 AM   Subscribe

Looking for practical advice and fresh perspectives on how to get a (non-journalism) job in the Australian media / digital media / information industry.

Early 30's, 10 years experience happily working in public affairs (politics/policy/pr), currently in-house. A recent journalism Masters taught me a bunch of useful skills; and that I don’t want to be a journalist. But it energized my undergrad fascination with the economics /regulation of the media and information, and emerging practices like curation, crowdsourcing and data journalism.

I want to be part of the new media landscape, but I’m finding it tough to figure out what sort of role would best suit me and how I would go about making that transition, partly because the industry's in so much flux.

Education wise I also have a masters in public policy, marketing qualifications and am currently studying media law /regulation. I’ve done a bunch of media production courses (I don’t think further study will help!) Work wise, I’m good at problem solving, negotiation, stakeholder and people management. I’m happy to work in a commercial organisation and have some BD experience. Life wise, I have some financial flexibility to work at a lower level than I currently am to transition, if need be.

Most managers at big media organisations seem to have a sales or journalism background or were hired as a lawyer/accountant. Public affairs roles are thin on the ground. And at least some industry experience seems to be required for an academic career (both casual teaching or eventual PhD) or a start up.

So here come the questions: Should I cast my net wide or go niche? Can I parlay the skills I have, or do I go for an entry level job that gives me “industry” experience? How else can I handle the credibility gap? Is there value in getting involved in running a community media organization or putting on events or writing a blog or online opinion? And what sort of work do I prioritize in the meantime - get more management experience? Finance? Business development?

Final special extra complicating factor: Other eventual life goals: Kids plus living and working overseas (most likely in Asia). Do I get the travel out of the way now, or do I put my energy into the career transition with the hope that it will lead to OS opportunities down the track?

tl;dr What’s the best way for someone to break into the media / digital / information industry (Not as a journalist)
posted by rockpaperdynamite to Work & Money (1 answer total)
I don't know Australia but for the type of thing you're looking for I would really suggest looking at the corporate side. Investment firms, energy and mining companies, all increasingly need video production, blogs, and more robust investor relations programs than they have had before. Find an industry you can learn about and then make sure you can offer a full palette of skills (you may need new media + graphic design or technical writing, for example, at least starting out) to an employer. You may have to start near entry level but the benefit of private sector is the ability to move up the food chain quickly if you're good, and you can always supplement with freelance projects on the side to make ends meet. Good luck.
posted by the foreground at 9:33 AM on August 15, 2012

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